What Kind of Bite Issues Can Invisalign Correct?

 Invisalign Cedar ParkA patient’s bite, also called an occlusion, refers to how the upper and lower arches of teeth line up when the mouth is closed. Bite issues or malocclusions can have significant effects on oral health. Besides straightening teeth, one of the major objectives involved with orthodontic treatment is to correct malocclusions to prevent damage to teeth, gums, and the temporomandibular joint. To help prevent the far-reaching effects a bite issue can have on oral health, our dentist offers Invisalign to straighten teeth and correct malocclusions.

How a Misaligned Bite Affects Oral Health

When teeth do not align properly, patients typically experience unnecessary tooth wear. As the teeth scrape against each other, tiny cracks will form in tooth enamel and teeth will eventually become weaker. Weak teeth are susceptible to decay and fracture. In addition to weakening teeth, a bad bite can also strain the joint that connects the skull and jaw (the TMJ) and its surrounding tissues. As the TMJ forces the mouth to a healthier position over time, the joint and facial muscles fatigue and patients hold a higher risk for developing TMJ dysfunction. Dysfunction of the TMJ can produce severe discomfort in some patients—especially in the form of facial pain and headaches.

How Invisalign Can Help

Like braces, Invisalign straightens teeth over time. Patients wear clear aligners that apply force to the teeth to correct misalignments. Invisalign can help improve bite issues such as over bites and under bites along with straightening gapped, crooked, crowded, and overlapped teeth. Unlike traditional braces, however, Invisalign is very discreet and removable. Very popular among teenagers and adults, Invisalign allows patients to remove their aligners during oral hygiene and meals. Since the aligners are clear, Invisalign is a very inconspicuous method for achieving a healthier and straighter smile.

To learn more about Invisalign, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our experienced dental team. At your appointment, we can determine if this type of orthodontic treatment is best for your situation.

Call us today at 512-200-7422 to book a consultation.

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Is Invisalign an orthodontic treatment for adults?

 Invisalign Round RockInvisalign is an alternative to traditional orthodontic treatments, such as braces, available for many patients including adults. In traditional orthodontic treatments with braces, brackets are bonded to the surfaces of teeth and connected by a wire that is replaced and adjusted regularly to achieve the desired movement and results. In contrast, Invisalign uses custom-made aligners that fit snuggly over teeth, gradually shifting teeth to a more functional position without the need for traditional hardware.

Adults that meet criteria for orthodontic treatment can discuss options with a dentist or orthodontist. In many cases, the dentist refers the adult patient to orthodontists for consultation and to learn about the options available for the individual case. When Invisalign is a possibility, the process is explained during the consultation to ensure the adult patient fully understands the process, options, and predicted timeline.

With Invisalign, impressions are taken of the top and bottom teeth to assess current positions and alignments. Custom-made aligners are created using clear plastic, with gradual adjustments to the positions and orientations of teeth for a more functional and aesthetic alignment. The clear aligners provide a virtually invisible treatment option that many adult patients prefer to traditional hardware braces, and the aligners provide a host of benefits and conveniences for only minimal additional effort.

Dentists instruct patients to remove the Invisalign aligners when eating, to prevent damage from pressure and impact, as well as protect the clear aligners from staining. This also protects teeth from staining as food and deeply pigmented beverages can become trapped within the aligners, maintaining contact with teeth. After eating or drinking, teeth are cleaned and aligners are cleaned, then the aligners are replaced over the teeth for continued treatment progress. The ability to remove the Invisalign aligners also enables better oral hygiene and self-care throughout the treatment process.

Unlike traditional braces that come with restrictions regarding certain foods, the Invisalign aligners are removed to eat thereby eliminating restrictions. Although some discomfort is normal as teeth move, regular eating habits are general easy to maintain throughout the Invisalign process. To learn more about treatment options and Invisalign, contact our skilled dental team at Balcones Family Dental today!

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Smoking and Your Dental Health

 north Austin dentistApart from the visual damage caused to teeth from smoking, there are many dental health issues that stem from smoking behaviors and a dentist will encourage smoking patients to quit for improved overall oral health. Visual signs of smoking are hard to conceal, including but not limited to stained and discolored teeth, chronic bad breath, abnormal tartar buildup on teeth, receding gums, and a condition known as “smoker’s lip” that occurs over time resembling a burn.

Receding gums expose the more sensitive parts of teeth that should remain protected by health gum tissue. When the gums recede, teeth often develop sensitivity, especially to hot and cold temperatures, but also to contact. The lost gum tissue can include periodontal disease such as gingivitis, as well. It is estimated that smoking accounts for approximately half of all gum disease cases. These and other related symptoms are observed by a dentist at routine checkups and standout as obvious signs of smoking in a patient. 

Apart from the visual damage caused to teeth from smoking, there are many dental health issues that stem from smoking behaviors…

Smoking increases the bacteria in the mouth, allowing an increase in cavities, sores, bad breath, infection and disease.  While these can occur in non-smoking patients, they tend to occur more readily and progress more rapidly in smokers. Moreover, the taste buds can be altered from smoking, causing a decrease in taste sensation or altered taste sensation. A dentist can discuss these details with individual patients to assess the current state of overall oral and dental health, and help establish a plan to quit.

In more severe cases, oral cancers can occur from the damage caused by cigarette smoking. Teeth shifting or movement, bone loss in jawbones, missing teeth, and slower healing rates are also seen in lifelong smokers. Tobacco products reduce the flow of oxygenated blood to the gums and inhibit the ability to maintain dental and oral health. This is seen in cigarette smokers, but also in users of chewing tobacco, pipe smokers, cigar smokers, and drug users, recreational or otherwise.

For information on smoking cessation and improving dental health, contact our caring dental specialists at 512-200-7422 today.

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Is Zoom Teeth Whitening Safe?

Zoom teeth whitening AustinZoom teeth whitening is a dental procedure where the patient can enjoy whiter, brighter teeth in one brief dental appointment.

The process generally involves teeth being clinically cleaned to remove topical stain and dental plaque. The dentist will complete an exam to make sure the patient meets the minimal requirements for teeth whitening. It is usually recommended the patient be eighteen years of age; there is no active dental decay; there are no broken teeth or hairline cracks; excessive gum recession is not present … these dental conditions can mean the patient will experience sensitivity during the teeth whitening procedure.

Once the patient meets dental qualifications, it will be determined that any desired cosmetic dentistry will be completed after teeth whitening so your new cosmetic restoration will be color matched to your newly whitened biological teeth.

With Zoom teeth whitening, the patient can go from dull and drab to Hollywood WOW by lightening teeth up to eight shades.

The patient will get their new look underway with their dental professional placing protection on the soft mouth tissues to prevent burns (Zoom teeth whitening contains the most powerful whitening agents available, which is why it must be distributed by your dentist). The whitening gel is applied and teeth are subjected to a laser or curing light to expedite the process.

For many patients, one application will achieve the desired result; however, if needed a second application can be completed during the same session.

With Zoom teeth whitening, teeth can continue to lighten for up to two weeks following this in-office treatment so final results may not be immediately realized.

Zoom teeth whitening is completely safe. In addition to oral protection during application, eyewear is provided. In addition, your in-office treatment is administered by a trained dental professional … this means any concerns or questions you may have are addressed immediately. This benefit is not available with whitening products purchased online or at the drugstore.

Zoom also offers take-home whitening for individuals who wish to lighten their teeth at their own pace in the privacy of home. Guidance from your dentist is still available as this product is only distributed by a dental professional.

Touch up kits are available for both in-office and take home Zoom whitening that can be used as needed to keep your new smile bright.

Contact our cosmetic dentistry team at Balcones Family Dental for more information about teeth whitening today.

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Snap-On Smile: Am I a candidate?

cosmetic dentistry Round RockOne of the leading aesthetic enhancements individuals desire is a way to improve their smile. There is a solution that does not involve years of treatment, does not require permanent modifications to your own biological dentition, and is not harmful or painful to complete. Cosmetic dentistry offers many opportunities to improve appearance, but Snap-On-Smile is a quick and very economical method that appeals to many patients.

What is Snap-On Smile? Your dentist will take a dental impression of your upper, lower, or both arches. The impression(s) will be sent to the Snap-On Smile lab where your new smile will be fabricated using a strong resin material that will provide the user a final restoration that is strong and lifelike.

In a matter of a few weeks, the patient will visit their dentist to have their new smile fitted. Snap-On Smile literally slips onto your own natural teeth and is fitted snugly requiring no wires, clasps, cement, or glue to stay in place. 

Cosmetic dentistry offers many opportunities to improve appearance, but Snap-On-Smile is a quick and very economical method that appeals to many patients.

There are no age requirements … patients with missing teeth, a malocclusion, gum recession, chipped teeth, dental stain, or gaps between teeth can benefit from Snap-On Smile technology. Your Snap-On Smile dentist is qualified to make the determination of your candidacy for this cosmetic dentistry. Most patients will meet qualifications, but for teeth that are grossly misshapen or out of place, wearing Snap-On Smile might mean correction before completion can be done.

Your new smile merely fits over your existing dentition … is strong, yet flexible; is stain resistant; stays in place during meals and snacking; and is easy to maintain. Before going to bed, your smile appliance is removed and cleaned with the special product designed specifically for this purpose … it is important that normal tooth paste or gel not be used as it can damage the sheen on your new smile.

There are very few restrictions … chewing gum and eating sticky foods like caramel are discouraged. There is a brief adjustment period where sound pronunciation may be affected, as well as increased salivation may be experienced.

Even though your natural teeth are covered with your Snap-On Smile, it is imperative to maintain your dental health by brushing and flossing your biological teeth daily and visiting your dentist every six months for a clinical cleaning and dental exam.

Call our office at 512-200-7422 to reserve your appointment today.

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Harmful Dental Habits to Avoid

north Austin dentistWith the treatments available in modern dentistry, it is now possible for patients to keep their natural smiles well into their golden years. However, patients play an important role in preserving their smiles, and they must nix any harmful dental habits in order to achieve that goal.

One of the most detrimental habits for your oral health is avoiding your dentist. Even if you’re not experiencing any troubling symptoms or discomfort, it’s still important to check in with your dentist every six months for an exam and professional cleaning. This essential routine dental care can help to protect your oral health by keeping oral bacteria to a minimum and giving your dentist the opportunity to identify small problems and address them before they become major issue.

In addition to visiting your dentist on a regular basis, you should also avoid slacking on your home oral hygiene routine. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes at a time and floss every day to keep your teeth in tip-top shape between dental appointments.

Certain habits may actually damage your teeth, too. For example, do you often bite into objects that aren’t food, like your fingernails or pencils or try to open a bottle with your teeth? Don’t! You could do serious damage to your teeth.

You may have some harmful dental habits that you’re not even aware of, too. Many people unconsciously grind their teeth, a condition called bruxism. Patients whose teeth show unexplained signs of wear and tear may want to consult with their dentists about wearing a mouthguard at night to eliminate contact between the upper and lower arches. This problem can be exacerbated by stress, so stress management techniques can also be effective at reducing the grinding of the teeth.

The next time you see your dentist, use that as an opportunity to check in and make sure that you don’t have any harmful dental habits that may affect your oral health. And if you haven’t seen our dentist, Dr. Paul Lounsberry in a while, take advantage of the chance to get back on track.

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Can I just wear Invisalign at night?

Invisalign north AustinPatients tend to choose the Invisalign system to straighten their teeth because of the convenience that this treatment offers in comparison to conventional orthodontic appliances.

Invisalign repositions the teeth using a series of progressive trays made of a clear plastic material, rather than standard metal brackets and wires used in other orthodontic interventions.

The patient’s dentist will provide a schedule for swapping out the trays, which generally happens every two weeks or so. Adhering to that schedule is the key to getting the desired outcomes from Invisalign.

Patients also must be sure to wear the trays for the recommended amount of time each day, generally between 20 and 22 hours each day. The patient is responsible for following the dentist’s instructions in using the trays properly. Patients must wear the trays during the day as well as at night in order to move their teeth. 

Adhering to that schedule is the key to getting the desired outcomes from Invisalign.

As a reward, their teeth will move more quickly (in some cases as little as a year) during treatment than they would with standard orthodontics.

There’s really no need to avoid wearing the trays, either. Although some Invisalign patients may be reluctant to wear their trays all day, the trays have minimal impact on day-to-day activities. They can be removed at mealtime and for brushing and flossing.

In fact, removable trays have a significant advantage over brackets and wires. Patients don’t have to restrict their diets, and they can easily brush and floss their teeth just as they have always done.

The rest of the time, you’ll barely even remember that you’re wearing the trays at all. Plus, since Invisalign doesn’t intrude on your smile’s appearance, no one else will realize that you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, either.

To get the desired results from your Invisalign trays, it’s important to wear them almost the entire day, removing the trays only when it’s time to eat or brush and floss your teeth. If you have any questions or concerns about how to wear your Invisalign trays, be sure to ask our dentist by calling 512-200-7422 today.

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When Can I Return to Work After Dental Implant Surgery?

dental implants north AustinFollowing surgery for dental implants, the patient may need anywhere from one or two days to a week off of work, depending on the type of work they do. A physically demanding job will require more time off after dental implant surgery, whereas a patient with a more sedentary job may be up to working the day after surgery. The implant dentist will make a recommendation that may vary between patients based on individual differences in health, physical capacity, surgery procedures, and work environment.

For the average patient, three or four days of rest will suffice after dental implant surgery. Tenderness and some swelling are normal and will subside within the first few days. Many dentists recommend having the implant surgery mid-week, allowing for a day or two off from work plus the weekend to recover. It is important to avoid strenuous activity for the first few days, to reduce the risk of bleeding, and if sutures or stitches were needed for the implant procedure, they will usually dissolve or fall out during the first week.

The recovery process following dental implant surgery extends beyond simply feeling better. For several weeks, most patients are required to adhere to a soft-food diet. Taking time to ensure the diet contains sufficient calories, protein, and nutrients will improve recovery and overall health.

Patients with smoking habits are required to abstain from smoking during the healing process. Smoking after dental implant surgery can increase risk of infection or lead to dental implant failure. This risk is higher when a bone graft is involved in the surgery process.

The dental implant process takes time. Following the implant surgery, depending on the location of the dental implant, there may be a wait period averaging three to six months before a tooth or crown is permanently placed. The dentist will explain the specific details for each procedure or process as they vary with factors unique to each patient. The dental implant is a customized procedure, designed to specifically fit and support each individual patient.

Contact our experienced dental implant team today and ask about dental implant procedures and options available and tailored for you!

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Healthy Dental Habits to Follow

dentist north AustinMake every trip to the dentist a reason to smile by incorporating the daily practice of healthy habits contributing to dental and oral health. Oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing, are only one part of caring for teeth, gums, and mouths. Taking care to floss regularly improves healthy gums and reduces buildup between teeth, where sneaky cavities lurk, but there are other habits that can help improve and maintain overall dental health.

Consuming simple or processed sugars and carbohydrates, such as those in soda, candy, and white bread or pastas, helps set the stage for bacteria growth and cavities by increasing sugars in the mouth. Simple carbohydrates digest fast and they start digesting before even swallowed, breaking down into sugars while still in the mouth. It’s not necessary to cut these foods out of a diet completely, but brushing immediately after eating them can greatly improve dental health efforts.

Staying hydrated also helps because, when properly hydrated, the mouth remains moist and saliva production is fairly consistent. Saliva helps remove food that may otherwise be stuck in the mouth. It also reduces acids in the mouth, protecting teeth and enamel. Chewing on sugar-free ADA-approved chewing gum, especially after a meal if brushing is inconvenient, can greatly improve oral health by increasing saliva in the mouth and helping to remove any remaining food particles. 

Maintaining regular checkups allow the dentist to spot any problems early and give a better chance for success with preventive treatments.

Calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth and many, women especially, either consume too little calcium or begin suffering from bone loss typical of the aging process. A well-balanced diet that includes calcium-rich dairy or calcium-fortified non-dairy substitutes and juices ensures the body receives what it needs to keep teeth healthy and strong.

Maintaining regular checkups allow the dentist to spot any problems early and give a better chance for success with preventive treatments. When a problem is spotted, the dentist can treat early rather than risk tooth and gum damage.

Dentist visits are one part of the dental equation, and when combined with a healthy diet, good hydration, and diligent brushing and flossing habits, teeth and gums have the greatest chance of remaining strong and healthy for life.

Contact our dental health specialists at Balcones Family Dental today and learn more about improving and maintaining a healthy smile. Call 512-200-742 to schedule your visit.

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